August 22, 2011

Interview With Chain Reaction Author Simone Elkeles!!

Being from Chicago and going to high school in the same area as author Simone Elkeles (at the same time) has made her Perfect Chemistry trilogy one of my favorite reads.  I definitely can relate to the characters, settings, and situations.  What I truly love about Simone's books is the way my student's relate to them.  I cannot keep Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction on the shelf!  Teens who are not even in my classes come to me asking to borrow these books!  Unfortunately, we have come to the end of the Fuentes brothers saga with the recent release of Chain Reaction, the third installment of the Perfect Chemistry trilogy. Luckily, we were able to have Simone Elkeles take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her awesomely hot books!  Read on to find out more about Perfect Chemistry, Chain Reaction, and what is next in store for her growing number of fans.

How did growing up in the suburbs of Chicago influence the plot and setting of Perfect Chemistry?

Perfect Chemistry is loosely based off of Highland Park High School, which was my rival high school growing up.  The setting is definitely familiar to me, because it’s close to where I grew up.  There is a big Hispanic community on one side of “the tracks” (yes, there are literally tracks separating the town) and kids who live in mansions on Lake Michigan on the other side.  They all go to the same high school, and I thought it would be great to see what would happen if two people from different sides fell for each other.  I’m a girl who was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs.  I know Chicago – it’s in my blood!  I think it’s hard to write about Chi-Town unless you’ve lived here.

What was your inspiration in creating the Fuentes brothers and how did you manage to make them so irresistible? 

Seriously, Alex was first based off of this Mexican guy who works at my bagel store.  Besides making the best bagels in the Chicagoland area, he’s got charisma and swagger that can’t be ignored.  You can’t help but focus on him when you walk in the store.  When he smiles, you smile right along with him.  I think the Fuentes brothers are so irresistible because they’re not only super hot looking, they’ve also got the biggest hearts.  When they love, they love with all of their heart and soul.  It’s also super sexy to be so dedicated to your family that you’d do anything for them – even sacrifice yourself.  I think you fall in love with Alex, Carlos, and Luis Fuentes for different reasons because they’re so different- I’m so thankful my fans love them as much as I do!

Have you done any work with teens affected by gangs?

Yes.  I have spoken with boys at juvenile detention centers in the United States, and I also have fans that have been in gangs.  I met with some of them for research on Chain Reaction and it was definitely eye-opening and heartbreaking at the same time. These teens have been through so much, and have seen too much violence in their young lives – more violence than anyone should see in a lifetime!

What advice do you have for teens who find themselves in the same situations as Alex and Carlos?

My fans who relate to Alex and Carlos find themselves wanting to be like Alex and Carlos – they want to clean up their lives and be a hero.  It’s not easy to do, but it’s definitely possible!  I hope my books give inspiration to teens in those situations.

How long did it take to write each of the Perfect Chemistry novels?

Perfect Chemistry I wrote in four months, but kept rewriting it over five years.  Rules of Attraction took about 4-5 months. Chain Reaction I re-wrote three times over nine months.  

Is there a certain process you go through when writing the books?

Nope.  I don’t write off of an outline, so I just write “Chapter 1” and start typing.  The stories usually come to me as I’m writing them.  Sometimes it’s easier to write at my office where I have no distractions, and sometimes I have to go to a coffee shop where I welcome the background noise. I have no specific process.  Because I had a harder time writing Chain Reaction, I cut pictures out of magazines to represent each character and glued them to a poster board to help me.

Are there any plans for a movie based on Perfect Chemistry? I know we would love to see one!

My film agent, Michelle Weiner at CAA, thinks Perfect Chemistry would make a great television series.  Cross your fingers that a film or series is made, because I’d love to see my characters come to life on the big or small screen!

Can you tell us a little about what it was like on the set of the Chain Reaction book trailer?

It was amazing, surreal, and super emotional. Seeing my characters come to life, as I’d always imagined them, is completely mind-blowing.  I was giddy and dorky the entire time, loving every single second of it.  It was also stressful, because we had to film it in one day instead of the planned two days (long story) so all the scenes had to be done quick and we had to move on to the next scene/location before we lost any daylight.  I loved working with my longtime friend from high school Pete Jones who directed the trailer, and producer Judd Nissen really put the pieces together in such a quick timeframe I have no clue how he did it – I was really thankful for his expertise.  Watching the Director of Photography Dean Bushala on set was amazing- he’s seriously a genius with a camera and I’d love to work with him again.  If you were there, you wouldn’t know it was just a book trailer- you would have thought you’d walked on set of a major motion picture. 

The covers of the Perfect Chemistry books definitely add to their appeal and the cover of Chain Reaction is by far the hottest.  What did you think when you first saw it?

I thought the cover for Chain Reaction was hot, and I loved that Nikki looked Hispanic, but I didn’t know how I’d incorporate that shower cover scene into the book.  I got the cover before I wrote the book, which is the same thing that happened to me with Rules of Attraction.  I love the covers for the Perfect Chemistry series – they’re edgy and sexy just like the books!

Now that the Perfect Chemistry trilogy is completed what can your fans expect next?

I’m going to be writing a story about a girl who falls for a boy who just came out of rehab.  The story will hit close to home, because when I was a senior in high school I met and started dating a boy who’d just come out of rehab and had been an alcoholic/drug addict since he was 12 years old.  It will not be auto-biographical, but I assure you a lot of it will be first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to date a recovering alcoholic/drug addict as a teen.  I still remember going to Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings before our dates.  The boy taught me how to live hard, laugh hard, and love hard –something I still carry to this day. I probably wouldn’t be writing romance if it weren’t for that relationship, where I loved so deeply and our relationship became so intense the boy became part of my soul.

Thank you so much Simone for answering our questions!!  Chain Reaction is available now at bookstores everywhere.  (I just saw it at the Lake Geneva Target!!)

Want to watch the Chain Reaction book trailer?  Click HERE!!

August 19, 2011

Chain Reaction is HERE!!!! And so is Simone Elkeles!!!!

First of all, if you have not read the first two Perfect Chemistry novels by Simone Elkeles I highly recommend that you do - NOW!!!!!  Rarely does a book come along that appeals to everyone, but Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction have been breaking age, ethnic, and gender barriers since they were released.  Now the third installment of the Perfect Chemistry series, Chain Reaction, is set to do the same!  Be sure to check back here at X-treme Readers on Monday to read an interview with Simone Elkeles about her books and also find a link to the Chain Reaction book trailer!

Don't panic X-treme Readers - I have our classroom copies of Chain Reaction, but this time I get to read it first!!!

I am posting this now because I will be out of town (although I have yet to start packing) and away from technology on Monday, so I have scheduled Blogger to auto-post on the blog.  Not being the most tech savvy blogger, I am a little nervous that I messed up.  I just realized that I forgot to preview the post, sigh . . .

Also, the X-treme Readers will be making their debut on the blog the week of Sept. 7th!!!  Hopefully once they take over the blog things will be a lot smoother :-)

Have a great weekend and don't forget to check back on Monday!!!!

August 3, 2011

Guest post by Soul Quest author Amy Maurer Jones!!!!

The Soul Quest Trilogy Amy’s writing debut, Soul Quest is a Young Adult Paranormal Romance novel. The completed work is 71,749 words and is the first book in a trilogy.
Synopsis for Soul Quest:
            Do you remember how horrified you were about the idea of attending high school? I remember ticking off those last miserable days of my summer vacation following my eighth grade year. Maybe you don’t, maybe you were one of those people. You know who I’m talking about, people like Melissa Small, the distinguished District Attorney, Larry Small’s daughter, popular, gorgeous... and absolutely terrifying to someone like me, Liv Glyn. No, I am far from measuring up to the standards required to make Melissa’s crowd. I’m not even close. I’m just a simple man’s daughter, mostly tolerated by my peers with average looks. If this isn’t depressing enough for you, stay tuned, it gets worse.
            I was commanded with spirit at birth by the Great Spirit, Hala. I know, it sounds crazy but it’s true. If you think it's difficult being a teenager, try being a teenager who was born destined to save the world from soul sucking Daevas and their mutant progeny Aengels.
            There are four of us. My companions of spirit are Laith, Brayan and Meena. Melissa Small is Laith’s step sister and she is always meddling where she doesn’t belong, further complicating our lives. To make matters even worse my best friend Jedd is apparently aware of things that are typically undetectable to ordinary humans. So, I have to lie to Jedd, the boy who has been my constant standby since the third grade, to shield him from the horrible and very dangerous truth. Did I mention that I think I’m falling in love with him? The term awkward doesn’t even begin to cover it, trust me.
            Welcome to the mess that is my life.

 The Inspiration for The Soul Quest Trilogy
Soul Quest was inspired by a really weird dream. My hubby is a night owl and loves to stay up late watching the History Channel. I had this dream about a little boy standing in the middle of mirrored room. The little boy looked just like my son when he was 3 years old. He had cute chubby cheeks, curly blond ringlets and beautiful hazel green eyes.
The little boy was watching images flicker on the mirrored walls in the room. The mysterious mirrors showed images from historical disasters such as Hitler's dictatorship, Martin Luther King Jr. and Kennedy's shootings and Nine Eleven... you get the gist. Anyway, it had a major impact on me. The next day I asked my husband what he was watching on television the night before. He said it was a special episode on the History Channel dedicated to the worst events in history. He acknowledged all of the above mentioned tragedies were a part of the episode.
I suppose as a mother the dream was symbolic of the wrath of the world posing a threat against my children. So, I decided to turn it into a positive thing. In this effort my little boy became Hala, the Great Spirit. Hala is a being as old as time, a spirit who resembles a child in physical form.  Before I knew it, a quest for justice against evil began. Since I work with teenagers it was only natural that they became the heroes in the plot. The basis of the book is good verses evil but I tried to weave into the underlying tone that life is about choices, good and bad.

- Amy Maurer Jones, author of The Soul Quest Trilogy